September 30, 2011



Enjoy the finest 80's bubblegum hits this week.

Be careful to chew out all the sugar before trying to blow a musical bubble.

September 29, 2011

My life, simplified



Thanks to the math department for sharing today's video.

TableTopics: #35


Today, question #35: What kind of business would you love to start?

Ok, the most honest answer is that I pretty much have no desire to open any business of my own. Running a small business has to be exhausting, terrifying, and all-encompassing for your life. I don't want to take on the risk associated with mortgaging my economic future and putting it in the hands of market fluctuations, fickle consumer tastes, changing tax laws, and utter random chance. I don't want to put in the long hours that are required when you're the be all and end all boss of things.

I know that every get-rich-quick scheme ad assumes that everyone hates being bossed around and desperately wants the freedom that comes from setting your own schedule, running things the way you want to run them, and holding your future in your own hands, but I don't want any of that. I may grouse and complain about the bosses above me, but I don't want their jobs. I like being a cog in the wheel. I like being guided. Sure, I might not enjoy the way the bosses guide me a lot of the time, and I may not like where they're guiding me, but I don't have the desire/guts/chutzpa/cajones/stones to be the one doing the guiding.I'm not going for my principal's certificate for a definite reason.

All that being said, if you gave me a few million dollars and said 'open your own business,' let me have the financial safety net needed to not worry (and to hire enough help that I didn't have to kill myself just getting the business afloat), and told me to open my own business, I'm not entirely sure what I'd open up. I can see problems and advantages to most any option I can come up with:
  • book store - The neighborhood, comfortable, homey book store concept has been done to death by people way more business savvy than I am, and I feel like the chances of making money on a brick and mortar book store at this point is pretty much slim and none, and slim just left town with the growing popularity of iPads, Kindles, Nooks, and the like. Book store's nice and sort of romantic and all, but it's not a business to be starting at the point. Take me back to the 1960's, and maybe a book store would be my choice, but not in the the 2010's.
  • comic book store - To some extent I get the same feeling about a comic book store that I do from a book store. Digital is coming, and there's no stopping it. It may not be coming as quickly as the digital general book market is, but it's coming, no doubt. Plus, the number of players that have to figure things out (mostly DC and Marvel for like 80%+ of the comic market) is smaller meaning that once they figure things out, the business is going to change radically and instantly. Might be fun to run a comic/gaming store and all, but the market isn't growing,and it's not a social enough thing for me to do. I've been in comic stores throughout my life, and there are enough times that I'm the only customer in there that I'm guessing it's a lot more lonely lot than most gamers and comic readers imagine. Sure, you can hire all your friends to just hang out with you, but that's pretty much a disastrous business decision.
  • music (record/cd) store - Same problems as both of the above. The digital revolution is gonna kill them entirely in the next decade or two. Sure, Record Store Day helps, but it can't be making and realistic change in the market. Yeah, I'd get to hear the newest music all the time, but the novelty of running a record store seems like it would wear off very quickly. Rob's isn't the life I'm looking for.
  • restaurant - No interest. I love eating at them, but I can't cook and don't have any clue for a restaurant that's better than or different from anything already out there. I'd pretty much want to recreate Troy's or Waffle House or Jeff Ruby's or the Knotty Pine, and they already exist. Why would anybody want to come to my place when they're already there and established?
  • blog writing - There's no money in what I write. Unless you folks are each willing to pony up like a few hundred bucks a month to read my drivel, that's a failure of a business model.
  • media critic - I could do that, but I'm guessing it's a pretty tough market to break into as there are like a million other people who are every bit as good as I am at writing about music, movies, television, and that YouTube video they saw yesterday. Plus, I don't think that really qualifies as opening a business. Freelancing, maybe, but not opening a proper business.
I think my answer is gonna have to be 'I don't want to open one.' I'm happy teaching and eventually retiring and traveling around some.


In case you're late to the party, here's the deal...

Here's what I've answered so far...
  • #25 - "I Know What Love Is" by Don White (way more detail here)
Already requested answers...they'll be answered (probably in this order)...

  • 36...16...19...22...24...27...32...37
Feel free to request other answers in the comments.

September 28, 2011

Charles Durning, everyone, Charles Durning

Charles Durning...hell of a man...hell of a hoofer...

Durning appears at about 1:10



September 27, 2011

Whatta bunch of blokhedz

Over at Brothers-Brick recently there was a post about a store in Beaverton, OR that had a nice after-market Lego selection. In the comments, the author asked if anybody knew of other, similar stores anywhere around.

Turns out there's an after-market Lego store up in Yellow Springs, OH, just east of Columbus. Looks like I've got a destination for a road trip.

Check out Blokhedz...on Facebook...on their website...in the news.

Now, if they can only get a better photo taken...

September 26, 2011

The media! The media!

The things that I've seen...

The Darjeeling Limited - Wes Anderson's films are of a definite style, full of timeless situations, eccentric characters who live in an idle wealth and discuss emotions and their dysfunctional family lived with a disjointed, quasi-mature detachment.

I've yet to see Bottle Rocket or Rushmore, but I enjoyed Tenenbaums, Steve Zissou, and Mr Fox, so I was willing to give Darjeeling a try. This time out was the first I'd seen the film but the fifth or sixth time I've checked it out from the library.

With both Tenenbaums and Zissou, I remember experiencing a general malaise about the films throughout but having my opinions change dramatically in the course of a climactic scene. Throughout Darjeeling I kept waiting for this emotional turn, this chance for me to connect with the dry and unsympathetic characters, and I'm still waiting. The film did have a climactic 'emotional' scene in which the main trio (Jason Schwartzman; Owen Wilson, natch; and Adrian Brody) throw their physical baggage to the side and dive into a river to try to save three local boys - unsuccessfully with one, leading to the film's silent, slow-motion funeral scene, but the scene was so out of place with these cold fish characters that it felt more out of place than emotionally resonant with me.

There's nothing to see here of note.



Dog Day Afternoon - Here, however, is certainly something to see.

Al Pacino owns this early career highlight in which he and two barely functional accomplices attempt to rob a Brooklyn bank and find themselves bumbling into a kidnapping situation.The movie is basically Al Pacino and a whole lot of lesser lights - Charles Durning being the greatest find (as he always is).

The movie is a great exploration of a real-life media circus with undercurrents of homosexuality, class warfare, race baiting, and police procedures in the 1970s.

Certainly worth a watch as Pacino really puts on a masters class in acting here.



100 Bullets by Brian Azzarello - PLCH got new copies of all thirteen volumes in this well-respected series recently, and I'm not one to pass up the opportunity to read an entire series tip to tail, so I grabbed the volumes and read 'em through.

The setup's engaging - that of an uber-conspiracy, The Trust, running America for centuries and needing a team of enforcers, The Minutemen, to keep each other in line. The writing is intriguing leaving much for the reader to figure out as the series moves along.

But the artwork is annoying to the point of frustration.

I had trouble keeping the characters identified as so many of them are drawn almost identically. I had trouble following the plot because the imagery would jump from current to flashback without any mention. The writing even was hard to follow because it's based so much on unspoken understandings between the characters.

Avoid this one.



Invincible (Ultimate hardcover vol 6) -At some point Kirkman has to give this guy a break. The last couple of volumes have felt like nothing but nonstop action seeing the eponymous hero get the snot kicked out of him left and right.

This volume, then, is more of the same - battles with alternate-reality versions of himself, battles with Viltrumite conquerers, and battles with the returned Sequids. It's rough to be Invincible even though his girlfriend is there to help him (and rebuild herself with a rather interesting body-adjustment choice by the author).

Invincible is excellent. The series is one of the better superhero comics ongoing right now, capturing perfectly the high-concept of 'what if Spider-Man was Superman', but this volume felt like the wheels were spinning a bit. How many times can Invincible face off against his biggest opponent yet without suffering from reader fatigue?

Sadly, next volume will have some more of the same as Invincible and his father, the reformed Omni-Man, will head to the Viltrumite home world to battle the entire surviving race.

Good luck to 'im.

I'll keep reading, but I'm not as desperate for the next volume as I was to get my mits on this one.




Drive - Ryan Gosling can do no wrong.

It's that simple.

Drive is a stylish film that avoids exploring Gosling's character's motivation, feelings, or anything other than his pure actions. This isn't to say that he is unshielded id but rather that he appears to be a man entirely devoid of introspection. He doesn't need to know the why or the how. He's a man of when, where, and maybe how fast.

Gosling and director Refn have put together a gorgeous, smooth film that manages to shock with the appearance of a hyper-violent side to our main character. When pressed to the wall, he comes out hammer a blazin', taking care of business without hesitation or remorse.

While Katydid may find fault that the film heads down a too-predictable path, I found myself happy enough to enjoy the excellent performances from Goslin, Albert Brooks, Carey Mulligan, Bryan Cranston, and especially Ron Perlman. Admittedly, Christina Hendricks is wasted in her moments on screen, but who cares when the rest of the cast is so well suited to their parts.

This one should be seen big because it's my guess that it'll suffer from the little screen.


Classics by Ratatat - This week's topic musical choice is an outstanding instrumental album from Ratatat.

I know nothing at all about the band and don't know that I could explain what they sounds like with any confidence or skill, but they're outstanding.

Take a few listens...











September 24, 2011

Well, all right...well, all right...

Well, all right, so I'm being foolish
Well, all right, let people know
About the dreams and wishes you wish
In the night when the lights are low



September 23, 2011

Sod off...



It's the very pleasant, androgynous, slightly effete British pop of the 1980's.

Enjoy it, ya wankers.

September 22, 2011

TableTopics: #25

Question #25: What song evokes the strongest memories for you?

There are a number of songs that are in the running. Before I choose one specific one, I'll nominate a few.
  • "I Ride an Old Paint" by Carl Sandberg - My memory of this one isn't of Sandberg's singing but rather of my mother's singing of Sandberg's version. It took me a while, but I did manage to track down Sandberg's version. 
  • "Stewball" by Peter, Paul, and Mary (and lots of other people) - This was the other lullaby I remember my mother singing to me as a child. I don't know whether I remember rocking in the rocking chair, but I remember being told that I was rocked in a particular chair while Mom sang me these first two songs.
  • "With Her Head Tucked Underneath Her Arm" by the Kingston Trio - I remember this one playing on my mother's record player when I was a kid, along with a number of other songs that hold family memories for me in the same way: "All My Children of the Sun" - Pete Seeger, "Don't Go Down to The Quarry" - Peter, Paul, and Mary
  • "Wagon Wheel" by Old Crow Medicine Show - This one is far more recent, having come into my world down at Tall Stacks five or six years ago (2006, I looked it up). The Girl and I had gone down to see Wilco perform and caught the end of the OCMS set before Wilco stepped out. The weather was perfect, the night was nice, and this song has meant a great deal to me ever since.
  • "I Know What Love Is" by Don White - This one's tough for me. My father's father passed away while The Girl and I were living on Philomena Ave in a house that was just over 100 years old at the time. My grandmother - his wife of sixty or seventy years - had passed away in the same room in a nursing home in New Albany (his and my hometown) not a couple of months earlier. The details of all of this are sketchy to me because I was teaching in Cincinnati and hours away from the passings. Because of this, things were oddly distant for me, but there were two specific incidents when their passings hit me very hard. One was while watching the last episode of Mad About You (May 24, 1999, I looked it up). In the final episode, there's a montage of moments yet to come in the life of Paul & Jamie's daughter (played by Jeanane Garofalo). One of the moments was clearly in the last years of Paul's father's life. He sat at a table celebrating their daughter's birthday, and he was slipping into dementia. (In all honesty, I think this incident came before my grandfather passed away but when he was well into his dying years.) The other time was when I was heading away from our Philomena home and "I Know What Love Is" came on the radio. It was a Sunday evening, and I have no idea where I was going, but I can tell you exactly where I was because I remember having to pull over because I couldn't drive through the tears. The song tells the life of a woman from birth through marriage to mothering to watching her husband die in her room and to finally finding herself taken back into God's loving arms. As I type this, I can still feel the tears welling up just thinking of the song. I spent the next couple of years hunting down the specific version of the song on a single benefit cd that I now own, and it tears at my heart strings every time I hear it to this day.
  • "Rainbow Connection" and "The Magic Store" by the Muppets - I love the this movie above nearly every other I've ever seen. The opening and closing numbers make my heart absolutely sing. Whenever the movie's on - whether it's because I've put the DVD on or because it's playing at two in the morning above Relay for Life - I'm sucked in.
  • Lots of songs tie me back to tapes that I've made for The Girl or that The Girl made for me. I've covered those before, so I won't dwell on them again. The most emotional of these for me is probably "Wholly Humble Heart" by Martin Stephenson (again, a version only available on a charity collection.)
  • "Killkelly" by Mick Moloney - During my senior year at Wabash, the college hosted a Celtic festival and brought in Mick Moloney to perform. I'd never heard of him, but I'd spent the previous year in Scotland, and The Girl was going to be in town, so I got tickets. We'd gone out for a nice, adult-type date before the concert, and got to the new performing arts center as the concert was about to begin. When Moloney introduced this song - written from letters from parents left behind in Ireland - and played it, I was in tears. It's a heart-wrencher.
  • "Cecilia" by Simon & Garfunkle -I remember singing this with ColdNorthGamer during our times on WNAS. It's a happy memory.
  • "Black" by Pearl Jam - This one harkens me back to my freshman year at Wabash, playing Sega hockey in Nick Salvo's fraternity room. The entirety of the Ten album does, but this one does it most strongly for me.
  • "The Sweater" by Meryn Cadel - I love this song. It came into my life in high school when I was the music director at WNAS, and I kept the cd single that was shipped to the station as a promo. (As an aside, nobody sends out cd singles any more do they? How do radio stations get their new music anymore - digitally?) It has stayed one of my favorite songs, and even helped me reassure a not-too-certain sophomore Katydid a few years back at PHS. That's been a heck of a bonus.
  • Fumbling Towards Ecstasy by Sarah McLachlan - Kristen the Red (one of those lost friends) loved this album while we were in Scotland together. One night in a hostel somewhere in the Scottish countryside, we sat up playing checkers as the hostel played this album. The album would come back into my life the next year as The Girl played it in her apartment in Bloomington as we fell back in love. It's held me in stead ever since.
  • "Lake Marie" by John Prine - At the wedding of two friends, John and Lexie, The Girl begged me to dance. I'm certainly not a dancer by temperament and told her that I would dance if they had this song, one that had been on my playlist at the time. She tottered over to mother of the bride and asked if she could request the song. Turns out that the mother of the bride is a big fan, and the DJ had the song. I danced and loved every minute of it.
  • "Closer to Fine" by Indigo Girls - The week after graduation from NAHS, The Girl, Gamer, I, and The Girl's foreign exchange student took off for a week in St Louis. This song played on the tape player, and I think of that wonderful week every time I hear it to this day.
  • "Sherry" by The Four Seasons - In Indiana basketball is big. I don't know if you've heard. Every spring our high school basketball team would win the sectional and head to Seymour, IN to play in the regional at the world's fourth largest high school gymnasium. There would be a morning game (starting at either 11 or 1, I think I remember) and hopefully an evening game (7pm maybe). That meant there were hours to kill between games. Some folks rented rooms and held parties. My friends weren't really those kinds of folks, so we would kill time driving around town, visiting Wal-Mart, shopping for cd's ("Wholly Humble Heart" came into my and The Girl's lives on one of those trips). During my sophomore year, I remember singing the high parts to "Sherry" in the back of (I think) Tom Boofter's boat of a car at top volume with The Girl beside me.
So, which one's the winner?

Probably "I Know What Love Is". It wrecks me to this day.

So, Calen, which one did you expect me to say?

And, just because I'm awesome like that, here's all of today's songs in an 8Tracks playlist.

September 21, 2011

Update: In Case You're Curious

Wait...lemme recalculate...

In case you're curious

If you were wondering, yes, at the current 2011 rate of posting (343 posts in 264 days), I will break my own record for most posts in a calendar year. The record currently is 430 posts in 2006, and my current pace is 474 posts.

New Wilco

The new Wilco album, "Whole Love," is streaming in its entirety at NPR. Give it a listen.

And, in case you're curious, yes, I have already pre-ordered the double-disc version.

First video is available...

Outstandingly devious



(alt text - Those few who escaped found the emergency shutoff disabled. The stampede lasted two hours and reached the bottom three times.)

(source)

If you're not reading xkcd regularly, you're missing out.

'Bout right...


That about sums up my feeling on the whole issue. (source)

September 20, 2011

The Stephen Colbert SuperPAC confusion

Man, I just do not get the whole Stephen Colbert Super PAC thing.



I got that it was initially funny because Colbert was making fun of the Supreme Court decision that corporations could spend unlimited money on political campaigns.

Heck, I even got it that Colbert took his request to create a Super PAC to the Federal Election Commission and made a media circus of the event.
           
The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Colbert Super PAC - The Heroes Respond
www.colbertnation.com
Colbert Report Full EpisodesPolitical Humor & Satire BlogVideo Archive

What I don't get is where the gag is going now.

I understand that Stephen Colbert is not the character he plays on television. From everything I understand about the man, I get that he leans left and doesn't agree with the conservative ideology typical of Fox News, Sarah Palin, Rick Perry, and probably even Mitt Romney. I think I generally agree with his political leanings, but because he's so good at staying in character, it's tough for me to always tell. He doesn't often reveal the man behind the suit.

What I don't get now, however, is what Colbert plans to do with all the money that he's collecting via his Super PAC. He's made a couple of commercials that aired in Iowa around the Straw Poll time, but the ads just seemed to be ridiculous pastiches of the typical conservative-leaning political ads. They didn't seem to be doing anything other than mocking the already-airing conservative ads.


I don't understand what Colbert is trying to accomplish. Is he just taking money so that he can show his jokes to a wider audience, to saturate the airwaves beyond his Comedy Central time slot? Is he going to eventually endorse an actual candidate in the 2012 election or is he going to keep airing ads mocking the candidates that he doesn't like (but mocking them in ways that I'm not sure every conservative voter would really know is mocking.)

I'm not sure I'm enjoying the Super PAC because it starts to blur the line between the real election and the coverage of the election. I know Colbert is far from a true, traditional newsman, but at what point does the mocking of an election begin to damage the respect that we have for the elected?


Cinéma vérité can go too far, and I fear that Colbert's cinema may just do that.

There's been a lot of press coverage of the Super PAC - NYTimes, NPR, Colbert Report, NPR again. I think in the end, I like the Daily Illini's take on the Super PAC:
The slanted media tells viewers about the madness of the circus. Colbert put viewers in the show. Now they know how serious, and dangerous, the fun and games really are. That is as straight as news gets.

September 19, 2011

Extortion Baby

U2 has been rereleasing their studio albums in various remastered packages.

The first few got remastered and released in two-cd versions with the second disc containing b-sides and rarities. With Joshua Tree, possibly their finest album, they offered a two-cd version and a three-cd version. It looks like Rattle and Hum got skipped (possibly due to licensing issues with the studio), but the band has come back with a profit-making vengeance with Achtung Baby.



For this one, they're offering a single-disc version for $13.49.

There's a two-disc version with the second disc being b-sides and rarities for $24.80. Sadly, they haven't released the track listing for disc two yet. I wanna know what's there because a while back, I went with the Ultimate U2 mp3 Discography torrent a year or so ago.

There's what they're calling a Super Deluxe edition with 6 cds, 4 DVDs, a 92-page hardback book, and 16 art prints for $143.51.

And then there's the Uber Deluxe edition with "six CDs including the original Achtung Baby album, the follow-up album, Zooropa, b-sides and re-workings of previously unheard material recorded during the Achtung Baby sessions. Four DVDs including "From The Sky Down", Zoo TV, all the videos from Achtung Baby plus bonus material. Also includes five clear seven inch vinyl singles in their original sleeves, 16 art prints taken from the original album sleeve, an 84-page hardback book, a copy of Propaganda magazine, four badges, a sticker sheet, and a pair of Bono's trademark "The Fly" sunglasses. Band members sold separately." (from the Amazon description)

And there's a vinyl version with 4 LPs (two of which are apparently on translucent blue vinyl) for only $170.50.

I get that things like digital downloading, bit torrents, and lots more are cutting into the sales and profitability of cds, but this just seems a little excessive, boys.

What do you think, Bono?


September 17, 2011

Head down

Keep your head down...the school year has to get easier, right?


September 16, 2011

8Tracks #100, a short tribute



8Tracks playlist #100 today is made up of twenty-five songs, none of which will take you even two minutes to listen all the way through them.

September 15, 2011

For my students

Yes, Sealand exists...
Here's an aerial pic...


And one of King Roy and his queen waving...


And from the waterline...


Wanna be starting something...

A year or so ago, The Girl got a Christmas gift of the original Table Topics, a set of 135 cards, each of which has a conversation starter question on it. We aren't exactly dinner party kinds of people, so we haven't, admittedly, had a lot of call for the cube. Some of the questions, however, are interesting enough that I thought I'd throw them out here and answer them one at a time over the next while. - probably one a week, maybe on a regular day.

The questions in the cube aren't numbered, but I'm going to number them and ask if there are any in particular that you folks would like to have answered first. I'll take requests in the order that they come and will answer them starting sometime next week. Oh, I've already taken out the questions that I'm either not willing to answer or that I feel I just don't have anything interesting to say in my answer.

By the way, the questions as printed on the cards have no punctuation - not even a question mark - and don't start with a capital letter. It's annoying to me, so I've gone ahead and corrected that in my list.
  1. Do you live more in the past,  present, or future?
  2. What obligation do you believe you have to your country?
  3. If you could give all human beings one virtue, which would you choose?
  4. What's your proudest accomplishment?
  5. If you only had 5 more years to live, would you change anything about your life?
  6. What would you most like to ask God?
  7. What do you wish you were better at saying 'no' to?
  8. If you didn't have to worry about money, what would you do with your life?
  9. How would you like to spend your elder years?
  10. If you had to spend one year living alone in a remote cabin, what would you spend your time doing?
  11. What change would you most like to make for your health?
  12. If money were no object, what kind of party would you throw and where?
  13. Do you believe in coincidence or synchronicity?
  14. What do you dream your life will be like in 10 years?
  15. Which political issues are the most important to you?
  16. What life experience has strengthened you the most?
  17. What historical time period would you most like to visit?
  18. What are the largest obstacles preventing you from realizing your dreams?
  19. Is there only one soul mate for each person?
  20. If you were cremated, where would you like to have your ashes spread?
  21. Would you like to be proudest of your accomplishments or your character?
  22. What would you try if you had no fear?
  23. If you could have a conversation with a deceased friend or relative, who would you choose?
  24. If you could have front row seats to any concert, who would you like to see?
  25. What song evokes the strongest memories for you?
  26. What one question would you ask a psychic about the future?
  27. What's your favorite book and movie?
  28. Would you stop eating all junk food to live 5 years longer?
  29. If you could master one instrument, which would it be?
  30. If you were offered a seat on the next space shuttle, would you take it?
  31. Where would you most like to travel?
  32. Who has inspired you as a mentor and why? (I'll change that last word to 'how'.)
  33. Would you rather be a great musician, artist, or athlete?
  34. If you could have any view from your back porch, what would it be?
  35. What kind of business would you love to start?
  36. Which historical event would you like to (have) witness(ed)?
  37. What's the most beautiful drive you've ever taken?
Looks like there were 98 cards that didn't interest me at all.

Which question do you folks want me to start with?

September 14, 2011

A little more Josie

I posted a vid of Josie Charlwood's cover of "Feel Good, Inc" this past weekend and have done a very minor bit of digging to bring you some of the rest of her YouTube published work so far.It's a nice mix of originals and covers, looped work and simpler, straight forward tunes. All of these can be downloaded from her website for a minor cost (30p and upwards).

"Diamond Eyes" (original, looped)


September 13, 2011

The best rules...

The first clean hit for "Rule number _____" on Google... (or"rule # ____" if that's more interesting)...
  1. Phil Town NYT best-selling author of Rule #1
    "1) Find a wonderful business, 2) Know what it's worth as a business, 3) Buy it at 50 percent off, 4) Repeat until very rich"
  2. Rule Number Two: Lessons Learned in a Combat Hospital
    There are two rules of war.
    Rule number one is that young men die.
    Rule number two is that doctors can't change rule number one.
    --M*A*S*H: TV show
  3. Urban Dictionary: rule number 3
    When asking someone about the number of sexual partners they've had, multiply a woman's answer by 3, because a woman wouldn't want to seem like a slut. When a man answers, divide the number he gives by 3, because he wants to seem like a player.
  4. Family Motor Coach Association - Remember Rule Number Four?
    Owning a motor coach is a never-ending learning experience.
    And just when you think you know it all, you find out just how stupid you really are.
  5. Rule 5 draft
    (Tough to summarize. It deals with descriptions of draft rules and who can('t) be protected on major/minor league rosters.)
  6. Stormwind: Personal Tangents
    "Rule Number 6 is 'Don't take yourself so damn seriously.'" 
  7. Urban Dictionary: Rule number 7
    Rule #7 is don't touch the women, but they can grab anything they want to!
  8. My Stupid Rules.com - Rule Number Eight
    Gee, that s*** just falls into my hands.
  9. NCIS: Gibbs Rules
    Never go anywhere without a knife.
  10. The Sandman: Rule Number 10
    A surgeon is assigned the anesthesiologist he/she deserves. 
  11. Food Rule Number 11
    Avoid Foods You See Advertised on Television
  12. Rule Number 12- moonprincessnat
    "Rule number 12, never date a co-worker," Gibbs managed to get out once they came back up for air. 
  13. Federal Rules of Civil Procedure - Rule 13
    Counterclaim and Crossclaim (There's a lot of detail...read it yourself if you're curious.) 
  14. Aria's Rules for Ladies - Rule Number 14
    A lady holds her head high but never her nose. 
  15. Rule number 15 of the Handbook
    No one remembers who you weren't. Just who you were. - The realization of your true self far outweighs the consequences of unpopularity. 
  16. Urban Dictionary: Rules of the Internet
    There are NO girls on the internet.
  17. Zombieland: The rules
    Don't be a hero.
  18. The Daily Brief: USMC Rules for Gunfighting
    Watch their hands. Hands kill. (In God we trust. Everyone else, keep your hands where I can see them.)
  19. State of Delaware: Title 4 Alcoholic Beverage Control
    A rule defining the words hotel, motel,  restaurant, and dinner theater
  20. Online Forex trading with 27 Forex Trading Rules
    Do not take more than 3 trades from the 4 hour chart and not more than 2 short term trade. In summary, no more than 5 trades (5% risk trades) should be opened at any particular time. Trades can however be added with time when the previously opened ones becomes profitable. 
From here, things devolve into repition of Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and Aria's Rules of Ladies. It's pretty boring from here.

Thanks, by the way, to rules 34 and 63 of the internet which were the original inspiration for this question.

Oh, and there will be a quiz later.

September 12, 2011

Too soon, too soon

COAST (Citizens Opposed to Additional Spending and Taxes) posted a tweet on Sunday comparing the loss of firefighters' lives in NYC from 9/11 to the loss of firefighters' jobs in Cincinnati from the funding of the streetcar project.
Not only is the tweet incredibly insensitive and in poor taste, it's also misguided as the two come from very different budgets.

The author of the tweet has apologize and deleted the tweet, but I think the PR damage has been done.


Thoughts on Serena Williams

If you missed it, Serena Williams got into another issue at the US Open today.

Down a set, serving in the first game of the second, Serena gets down 15-30 after a couple of good shots from Sam Stosur. On the next point, Serena hits a great forehand down the line toward Stosur's backhand. Against most players, it would've been a clean winner, but Stosur is able to get a racket on the ball, knocking it away toward the stands.

The problem came when Serena yelled 'Come on!' before Stosur got to the ball.

When I saw the point live, I thought it was at least poor form and probably against the rules for Serena to yell before the shot was, indeed, an actual winner. I don't think Williams had any intent to distract Stosur or to cause an intentional hindrance. She just was trying to get herself going after losing a surprising first set 6-2 and being in danger of going down an early second set break.

But Serena yelled - not grunted, not exhaled, not whatever - while the ball was still in play.

The chair umpire awarded the point to Stosur, and Serena wasn't pleased. She voices her displeasure at the umpire and has the crowd on her side.

John McEnroe says Serena shouldn't have been penalized the point, that the point should have been a let (a replay). I have a problem with that solution because it would have been a let due to intentional behavior from one of the players (Serena Williams). It's one thing when a player does something accidentally leading to a let (a ball drops out of a pocket, a hat falls off, whatever), but when the player intentionally causes something that would otherwise lead to the let, the player loses that point. McEnroe likens this to a player on the free throw lane talking to the shooter, an offensive lineman yelling at the quarterback while he's passing.

McEnroe is wrong.

Here's the exact wording of rule #26 - on Hindrance - from the International Tennis Federation (page 12 here): (emphasis added by me)
If a player is hindered in playing the point by a deliberate act of the opponent(s), the player shall win the point.
However, the point shall be replayed if a player is hindered in playing the point by either an unintentional act of the opponent(s), or something outside the player’s own control (not including a permanent fixture).

In those sports, there is little if any expectation for quiet during the play. Whether we like it or not, the expectation is tennis is that there will be quiet during the play and that players will not speak to each other during the course of the match - between points, perhaps, but not during the points. Chair umps ask the crowd to be quiet, remind people not to blurt out during points, and hold play until their expectation is met.

When the crowd cheered in support of Serena, they had the right to, but they were cheering against a chair umpire who made the correct call. For a brief moment Serena Williams had the sympathy of the crowd, and then she went further and further wrong. Serena won the first point of the next game, walked toward the chair ump, and screamed at the chair umpire.

Rare is the champion athlete who can succeed when their head isn't in the game. Rare is the athlete who can use anger and frustration and channel it into anything productive. Serena isn't that athlete.

Williams continued to yell at the umpire for the next couple of games, throughout the change overs. From her seat beside the umpire's chair, Serena told the umpire to not even look at her, the she was allowed to speak because 'we're in America...If you're ever walking down the hallway with me, you better (walk/look) the other way."

Serena is the greatest tennis player of this generation, having won thirteen grand slam titles (the sixth most of all time - behind Evert and Navratilova, both with eighteen,) easily outpacing her sister with seven - the next most of any active player. She is, however, an ungraceful champion, one whose record will be blemished with her actions at the US Open two years ago that, admittedly, make today's outbursts look very minor.

For whatever reason - foot injury, tiredness after playing yesterday, lack of match fitness after a medically tough year - Serena was not playing her best match today, and instead of fighting through this, Serena let her frustrations build up until they got the better of her and she showed the poorer side of her personality.

In the end the tempest didn't really matter, providing only a momentary distraction from Sam Stosur's first grand slam tournament title. Stosur played well today and earned her victory. Serena Williams is, thankfully, being graceful in her post-match interviews, but she didn't comport herself well today, and we're the poorer for that.

Update: When I'd initially written this, I included that Serena was given a point penalty for verbal abuse of the umpire. I wrote this because I'd read it online in looking up the exact words Serena spoke to the chair ump. One person on Twitter reported the point penalty, but I didn't remember seeing that when I watched the match, so I avoided it. Looks like there wasn't a point penalty but that the USTA does consider Serena to have verbally abused the chair ump and released a statement to that effect after the match. Remember, folks, that Serena is technically still on probation for her incident two years ago in the US Open final.

September 11, 2011

September 10, 2011

Tennis!



September 9, 2011

Khan means emperor




Today's playlist comes from musical royalty.

Seriously, khan means emperor. Look it up.

September 8, 2011

Pardon our ranting: City View Tavern

Let me repeat it again...

Websites are meant to communicate information.

They do this marvelously well, even if it's not the information you might be meaning to communicate. Take, for today's example, the website for the City View Tavern. The Tavern is a place I want to try because it's the second-ranked burger from Cincinnati magazine, and it's supposed to have a great view of the city (this Sunday's trip was postponed as we realized Mount Adams would be a zoo before the fireworks.

Their website is a spectacular example of mystery meat navigation. There no instructions, no directions, no guidance on the page. When you first load the page, you're greeted with the following page...


I'll give them credit that the facebook and twitter icons are prominently and clearly presented, but it took me about a minute to realize that the blinking neon sign over the door was what I needed to click on to find any information. Once I did click, I got...


All I was looking for was a copy of the menu and the hours. Let's see, would that be under the bar, the deck, front room?

Oh, and I'm getting annoyed because the cursor turns into a buzzing insect on the site. Because we all know that the image you want to present of your restaurant is that it has flies.


Clicking on the hallway, front room, or the deck present me with no information at all, just a changed image with some hidden clickable spots within. If you stupidly click on those spots, you get another window opened showing a slide show of the view from the tavern's deck. You're not warned in any way that you'll be sent away or will get a slide show. No, no reason to tell people what's there. Clearly you don't want to inform your possible customers. Instead, you want to show that you're quirky and creative and can pay somebody to design a flashy (and flash-based) website. That'll do a great job keeping your people engaged in your useless frickin' website.

If you're lucky enough to click on The Bar, you're greeted with three options...


Hours?!?!? Finally, something useful. Let's click there.


Oh, that's when you open. So you close at...um...you're open until...um...

When the hell do you close?

And when the hell do winter hours start? I get it that summer hours start 3/21, but when do summer hours end?

Jesus, are you people trying to annoy everybody even when they screw up and almost find something useful on your site?

If, instead, you click on View Food thinking you'll get to, oh I don't know,VIEW FOOD, you'll be surprised to find out that you get to view a very, very partial menu.


And the menu doesn't even all show up. Turns out that there's more menu if you drag the image upward. There's almost nothing to suggest that you should do that, however, as there's no scroll bar over on the right-hand side where everybody in the world puts them to show that there's more to the page.

If you're stupid enough to click on The Burger and the Bloody thinking that perhaps it might talk about their burgers and maybe drinks, you get another pop-up window with more mystery meat craptacular navigation.


'Cause AWOP is an acronym that everybody understands...as is Signs and Omens. Sure, we all know how useful those are when you're trying to learn about a restaurant. Do they have signs and omens and AWOPs? Hell, yes, I'm there.

To make things even more fun, it's hard to find the small spot in the bottom right corner that allows you to 'turn the page' to get any information on these pages.


If, somehow, you screw up and actually find Directions (hidden under etc because it's just extra information that nobody really needs to know about you), you also get a link that does nothing (Oddities), and one that called LinkS even though is pops up a window with only one link.

And to top it all off, Directions gives you a poorly scanned, low-res image of their directions and map. No possibility of copying and pasting here.


This site is a phenomenally crappy website. It's atrocious. My brain hurts after clicking through its crapness.

Their food better be spectacular because this is a website designed to drive people away.

September 7, 2011

It's school time, but I'm still reading...

What's there to talk about? I've got 18 AP chem students (the most in one class in my eleven years at PHS), 107 honors chem students (which woulda been five classes a few years ago but is four crowded classes this year), and 1 lonely senior who needs to pass the OGT.

It's a living.

Knight and Squire- Knight and Squire were created a number of years ago, back in DC's Golden Age. They were part of the Batmen of the World, the British part of the club. For a number of years, however, they disappeared, an odd little footnote from a very weird time. Grant Morrison, horrific comic writer of the moment for DC, decided to resurrect the whole Batmen of the World back in the heyday of the horrible Batman: RIP storyline.

Luckily, this six-volume collection is far more enjoyable and linear than RIP. The first four volumes set an entertaining, light-hearted, strongly British tone with British references and in-jokes throughout the pages. The last page of each issue is the author's chance to explain some of their more obscure references, not that much explanation is needed, because this is all about enjoying the Britishness, not about necessarily knowing what's going on every panel. Thankfully, there's a lot to be enjoyed as the titular Knight and Squire make for a brilliant parody of Batman and Robin. With the strong but silent Knight and the far more communicative Squire, we find ourselves amidst a relationship-based comic that takes the Mick with every page.

Then things turn in the final two issues, and we get a surprisingly tender story of the Britishness of these heroes, the tight and quintessentially British nature of this hero and villain community. The climax hinges on events from back in the first issue, bringing the whole six-issue arc full circle. The wrap up is well told and impressively touching.


Tron - Took a while to get the original from PLCH what with the excitement and promotion of the craptacular Tron:Legacy, but The Girl hadn't seen the original. So we waited.

and waited...

Turns out that the wait was kind of worth it. I remember Tron fondly as being absolutely revolutionary for its time, combining computer-generated images with live action in a thoroughly distinct visual style, a style that nothing else at the time had ever had. The black and white/rotoscoped computer-world images were unprecedented. In fact, that was one of the things that the new Tron was lacking. Legacy lacked everything revolutionary. Sure, it was neat and shiny, but it wasn't any sort of quantum leap forward the way that the original was.

Give the old girl a try. She's actually aged pretty well.

DMZ: M.I.A. - When last we left Matty Roth in DMZ's eighth volume,things had gotten about as bad as they could possibly get. A nuclear warhead had exploded just outside of town, and Matty's sponsor, Parco Delgado, was nowhere to be found. And Matty was persona non grata throughout the DMZ. This volume opens with a few flashback stories of Matty's earlier day in the DMZ, returning us to an issue or two of stand-alone stories of Matty doing reportage, something we had gotten away from in the last volume as Matty became a part of the establishment. It's a welcome return as Matty's identity in the series is reasserted in the rest of this volume, that of the man on the streets determined to chronicle life and in the DMZ.

When the volume returns to the storyline, Matty suffers a crisis of conscience and has to cross the DMZ to reach his peace. The journey is a challenging one but one he's easily up to with his experience on the streets of an even more bombed out Manhattan. At the end is a surprise that returns Matty - in a fashion - to his earlier role as reporter on the street.

This isn't a volume of great development. This is a volume that finds us back where the storyline had been earlier but does so naturally without some sort of magic reset button, something that would have been entirely out of character of this outstanding series. Volume 9 isn't an entry point, it's a reaffirmation of everything that has made this series one of the best ongoing series being published.


Rango - I didn't expect too much from Rango, but I was spectacularly pleased with how rich and heartfelt the film turned out to be. It's a straight forward enough Western story of our protagonist arriving in town, lying about his background (a la seven at one blow), becoming a leader, having a crisis of confidence, and returning to heroic status. On the surface there's nothing much to the story.

It turns out, however, that the journey here is well worth the time as the filmmakers have fit in a cornucopia of film references and genre tropes, bringing in Chinatown, The Man With No Name, and dozens of other nods for cinophiles. As Frank Lovece writes, "along with healthy doses of Carlos Castaneda, Sergio Leone, Chuck Jones and Chinatown that together make this the kid-movie equivalent of a Quentin Tarantino picture"

This one's for the adults but isn't in any way inappropriate for the kids. The visual villain - Rattlesnake Jake - is maybe a little scary for the wee ones, but there's enough good kid-friendly fare here that it's worth a look for both generations in any household.

Plus it's witty enough that kids will get their first tastes of some classic cinema even if they won't know it just yet.


Radioactive: Marie and Pierre Curie: a tale of love and fallout -This week's book choice comes via The Girl who checked out Radioactive after hearing the author on NPR. She thought I might be interested in the book, and it turns out that this is one of the most human chemistry reads I've had in a long while.

The book is ostensibly a biography of Marie (and to a lesser extent, Pierre) Curie, but the story is much, much more, revealing the spirit of radiation through the life of its discoverer, one of the greatest scientists ever. Her life is told in tales both professional and very personal, telling of her love for Pierre as well as their joined curiosity about and exploration of the mysteries of the invisible majesty of radiation.

The visual style of the book appears initially childish but reveals itself to have phenomenal emotional depth, illustrating the story with ghostlike images reminiscent of the X-ray-produced images that initially sparked Curie's curiosity. The writing, then, also mirrors the science as Curie's personal life is revealed in tandem with the effects of radiation on our world - and on Curie's life.

Most illustrative of this is when the biography tells of Curie - after Pierre's death - and her relationship with another great but married French scientist. Curie's affair become public knowledge, and she sought refuge with a friend, living in a small apartment far from her home as the storm passed over. Redniss chooses to pause the story there and spend two pages relating the creation of fallout shelters in modern times, mirroring Curie's search for safety with that of ours.

The balance between science and subject is note perfect throughout. This book deserves every one of the accolades that it has received. It is an outstanding, informative, and moving read.

Check out the book's site at the New York Public Library or some of the page images below.






One Moment in Time - I haven't read any of the Brand New Day stuff other than the very first volume, so I don't necessarily know how Spidey and the writers have dealt with one of the more drastic single-character resets we've seen this decade. As someone coming in without much background, I found this storyline useful in that it filled in a lot of gaps for me. It explained what changes were made to the Peter Parker-MJ relationship to cause it to go sour.

ComicsAlliance reviewed the story arc and described it as unnecessary, unneeeded. They said that the entire storyline would have been better left ignored and not dealt with again. I wouldn't go that far and actually enjoyed the read. It's not perfect, but it's pretty well done.

Apparently if you've already read the Brand New Day storyline, you don't need to see this. If you haven't, however, it's a good summary.

I enjoyed it.


Megamind - This film was a blast.

Simple enough premise in which the titular villain finally defeats his arch foe Metro Man and has to live with the world after he has no one left to fight, no one left to banter with, no one to scheme against.

The villain, of course, becomes bored and has to find ways to entertain himself, eventually creating a new hero to fight. That goes predictably badly, and the villain finds himself in the role of hero by the film's end, getting the girl, and saving the city.

The plot's pretty plain and linear, but it's the voice talents that really sell the story. Will Ferrell as Mega Mind, Liz Lemon (I'm officially turning into my Grandparents now - they always called Michael Landon 'Little Joe' because that's the role that they remembered him most in)...Tina Fey as the Lois Lane-ish Roxanne, David Cross as the sidekick Minion, and Brad Pitt as Metro Man. Every one is hilarious and perfect for their part. They make the film.

It certainly doesn't hurt that the poke good-hearted fun at loads of comic book and movie tropes throughout - Superman-era Marlon Brando appears in the best one.

All in all, a lot of fun.



Last Night on Earth by Noah and the Whale - Finally, a new album for me to review.

I've gotten do bad at just grabbing whatever cd I've got out from the library and burning it then listening to it in bits and bobs at some future point that I almost never listen to full albums anymore.Hence I almost never review full albums anymore.

Speaking of which, when's the next Vampire Weekend due? Anybody know?

Sorry, I digress.

I'm enjoying Last Night on Earth. It's the first real intro that I've had to Noah and the Whale - though the NPR story I heard recently that pointed them out to me said that they've been a bit early Wilco-ish in changing their styles pretty drastically on their three albums. I'm going to have to track down their other stuff, though. This is catchy stuff, well-written and tuneful.

It's a little bit Vampire Weekend (without the world beats) and a little bit MGMT (without the wall of sound guitars). Give it a try.




Secret War - dumb...nothing else need be said...

100 Bullets - Four volume in here with nine more volumes to go. Frustratingly, PLCH is missing volumes 5 & 8. Arrggh...

Intriguing enough to keep reading...

Update: PLCH just had volumes 5 & 8 show up in their catalog. They're on order but will be available. I love PLCH.

New Avengers vol 1,3,6 - These volumes were sitting around at the Sharonville branch, so I grabbed  'em. I like the character mix enough to have reserved the other volumes in the series. I'll report back more when I get those read, too.

September 6, 2011

Comics are expensive

Sometimes I just love the internet. Either I get to see photos of something that I never would have been able to experience otherwise or somebody posts a piece of fascinating research that would never have seen the light of day were it not for his/her website.

Today's post points out an example of the second of these: the research thing.

The past couple of decades have seen comic book take a turn for the less financially successful with DC and Marvel losing readership in droves. The causes of this have been debated: too much continuity, increasingly crowded media landscape, the decline of the newsstand, the growth of the direct market, digital comics, the speculators crash in the 1990s, the ceasing of virgin sacrifices to get that vivid read of Superman's cape.

In a post on ComicsAuthority, Von Allen explores a cause that I haven't seen anyone consider yet: the fact that comics are too expensive. Von Allen spreadsheeted the historical cost of comic books per page versus minimum wage and found that the average comic book...
  • in the late 1930's cost 0.6% of weekly minimum wage
  • in the late 1960's cost 0.2% of weekly minimum wage
  • in the mid-late 2000's cost 1.4% of weekly minimum wage
Sure, things are more expensive now. We all know it. Von Allen anticipates this criticism by pointing out that movie tickets, during the 1969-current time period, have risen from 2.5% of weekly minimum wage to 3.0% of weekly minimum wage, an increase of 20% instead of comics' increase of 600%.


Internet...research...statistics...comic books...how could anything be more perfect?

September 5, 2011

Update: Crossing Paths

A few years back, I mentioned that a couple of grads from my high school. One in particular, Charlie Wen, has been doing a few big things this past year, but I just heard about them.



Apparently Charlie was the Visual Development Supervisor for Thor this past summer. Marvel Comics's website had a big interview with him talking about how he designed the final looks for Thor, Loki, and a number of other characters.

Charlie's most recent blog post mentions other work on Akira, Suckerpunch, Captain Nemo, Captain America, and Avengers.

A different Marvel post titles Charlie as Co-Visual Development Supervisor for Marvel Studios, and it has a bunch of his work on the upcoming Avengers film.

His Thor-centric artwork even appears to have been collected in a Marvel book, The Art of Thor, which I'm going to have to hunt down somewhere to flip through.

It's kinda frickin' cool to see that Charlie is such an amazingly big deal any more. I'm gonna say that he's probably the most successful of our grads from our class. CoachSullivan, can you think of anybody else who's bigger in his or her chosen field?